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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

288                The Loom of Language
languages, words connected by meaning are placed in close pioximity.
German, and not only written German,, dislocates them Thus the
article may be separated from its noun by a string of qualifiers, and the
length of the string is determined by the whims of the writer, e g der
gestern Abend auf dem Alexanderplatz von einem Lastauto uberfahrene
Backermeister Mutter ist keute morgen seinen Verletzungen erlegen = the
yesterday evening on the Alesandraplatz by a lorry run over master-
baker Muller has this morning to his injuries succumbed The auxiliary
pushes the verb to the end of the statement, as m ich werde dich
heute Abend aufsucken (I shall you this evening visit). When you get to
the end of a sentence you may always fish up an unsuspected negation,
e g. er befnedigte unsere Wunsche mcht = he satisfied our wishes not
The dependent clause is rounded up by the verb, e g er behauptet, dass
er ihn in Chicago getroffen habe = he says that he him in Chicago met
had, and when the subordinate is placed before the main clause it calls
for inversion of the verb in the latter (da er arbettslo* ist> kann er die
Miete mcht bezahlen = since he unemployed is, can he the rent not
pay) Even the preposition may leave its customary place before the
noun and march behind it, e g der Dame gegenuber (opposite the lady)
as was possible m Latin, e g pax vobiscum (peace be with you).
Other preliminary essentials for a reading knowledge of German are
already contained in the tables of pronouns, particles, demonstratives,
and helper verbs, together with what has been said about the common
features of all the Teutonic languages or of the Germanic clan Anyone
who wishes to write German correctly must also master the concord of
noun and adjective The behaviour of nouns, of adjectives, and of
pronouns in relation to one another confronts those of us who are
interested in the social use of language and its future with an arresting
It is easy to understand why Icelanders can still read the Sagas. The
Norse community in Iceland has been isolated from foreign invasion
and intimate trade contacts with the outside world, while the speech-
nabits of Britain and some parts of Europe have been eroded by con-
quest and commerce The conservative character of German is not
such a simple story The Hanseatic ports once held leadership in
maritime trade. There were famous culture centres such as Nuremberg,
Augsburg and Main/. There was the flourishing mining industry of
South Germany and Saxony There were the great international
banking-houses of the Fugger and Welser Still, Germany was not yet
a nation like fourteenth-century England or sixteenth-century France.